Now before you either get worked up or start whole-heartedly agreeing with me, I don’t actually hate Grayson Allen. In fact, I love his style of play. A scorer who electrifies crowds with his dunks and plays with a bit of swagger, a defensive stopper, a National Championship winner and a guy who could end up being a late-round pick in the NBA.
But no one’s going to remember him for all of that.
Instead, he’s going to be remembered as they guy who loved to trip up his opponents. He’s done it multiple times in his college career that it’s become his thing. Grayson Allen and tripping has become the college equivalent to Draymond Green and kicking. And when Allen delivered his signature move once again Wednesday night on Elon player Steven Santa Ana, Duke’s long-time coach Mike Krzyzewski had no choice but to indefinitely suspend him until further notice.
So what’s the deal with the title of this article? Well it’s a reference to the popular 30 for 30 film I Hate Christian Laettner, which highlighted the career of one of the best, and certainly the most hated, college basketball players of all time. Laettner just happened to have played at Duke and heads the Mount Rushmore of hated white Duke players. The long list includes Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, Chris Collins, Steve Wojciechowski, J.J. Redick and now Grayson Allen. Allen has become our generation’s Christian Laettner. Laettner’s most infamous moment came in the 1992 Elite Eight showdown against Kentucky when he stomped on Aminu Timberlake. He went unpunished and went on to nail the game-winner in one of the greatest shots in college basketball history.
Moments like this gave fans a reason to hate all these players. They were white, went to Duke and were good at basketball. To many fans, these Duke players who looked just like them shouldn’t have been good on the court. Fans never booed Kyrie Irving, Jabari Parker and Brandon Ingram. Instead, guys like Redick and Hurley, who could pass as accountants and teachers, drew the ire of opposing crowds because they were relatable and therefore easy targets.
People never held back either. Chris Collins was called “Chrissy” everytime he played at North Carolina. Wojciechowski had a fan come up to him at an airport and say “I used to watch you at Duke. God, I hated you.”
Redick probably had the worst of all the fan hate. Maryland fans made shirts that said “When I grow up, I want to name my kid J.J. Redick so I can beat him every day.” Virginia fans created shirts with red marker dots on the back, mocking Redick’s bad back acne. The worst was when a Florida State fan made inappropriate comments about Redick’s younger sister.
What separates all these players and Allen however is social media. Social media has become a platform for fans to express their hate towards celebrities and with Allen, memes are made of him alongside his look-alikes. These include Ted Cruz, a young Mike Krzyzewski, Joffrey Baratheon from Game of Thrones and the cartoon character Doug.
These, along with the endless amounts of loathing tweets aimed at Allen has become his new reality. And after Wednesday night, Grayson Allen may have placed himself in the top 3 of all-time Duke villains.
Allen’s suspension was what’s needed for his career. It’s a chance for him to sit on the bench and think about how his actions have affected not only him, but his team as well. He’s a talented player, but talent can only take you so far. What’s interesting about the list of Duke players mentioned earlier is that none, if not at least one of these players, went on to have a successful professional career. This trend doesn’t look for Allen, but he’s already on the back foot with his discipline. He took a nice small step forward by apologizing to Santa Ana and Elon coach Matt Matheny following the game. Allen’s faced many challenges in his young career and will continue to face many more, but it’s how he responds to these challenges that will ultimately define him.